Did you know that over 11 million people in the UK have a criminal record? It’s a surprising statistic, but it doesn’t mean you need to worry about SIA Licence criminal record checks.
We’ve talked about getting a security licence previously, and how you will be subject to criminal record checks. The good news is you can often still get a licence, even if you’ve been in trouble with the law in the past.
How does the SIA Licence criminal record check if you are eligible for security work?
Often, the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 restricts access to a person’s criminal records. However, some roles, including getting an SIA Licence, are exempt from these regulations.
Before submitting your application, it’s advisable to log onto the SIA website and enter all the information required under the Criminal Records Indicator.
The indicator will provide you with an idea of if you meet SIA’s criteria to obtain a licence. You need to enter all cautions, warnings, community resolutions, absolute conditional discharges, admonishes, and convictions you’ve received.
All this information is anonymous. Rest assured you’ll get a fair chance. The SIA then conducts checks with the criminal record body and notifies you once they’ve verified the information they have.
What does the SIA consider when assessing a criminal record?
Suppose you’ve entered all the information required. How do you know what the SIA will be looking for?
First, they assess the seriousness of your offence. Secondly, they check if the offence is relevant to the work of a security professional. They also check the actual sentence or disposal given for each violation or conviction.
The sentence is important, because the SIA needs to know if you’ll be free of the sentence restrictions and be able to do your job.
If you have received a prison sentence, the SIA calculates the time since your restrictions ended as the number of months or years passed from the end of your sentence.
This also applies if you were given a longer sentence but were released early. Fortunately, time served on remand is also taken into account.
If you have been sentenced to a prison sentence of longer than 48 months, including life imprisonment, the SIA will not automatically grant you a licence. This is where the CAF comes into play.
For suspended sentences, you are free of sentence restrictions from the end of the sentence period, not the period of suspension. If you had received community disposals, you would be considered free of sentence restrictions at the end of the period of the order.
Nevertheless, if your criminal records show no date, you will be regarded as free of restrictions 12 months after the date of the sentence.
For fines and other disposals, you will be considered free of sentence restrictions from the day after the sentence or disposal was imposed.
How do the conditions for multiple sentences, convictions and disposals affect SIA Licence criminal record checks?
Suppose you have had more than one sentence. The SIA considers the impact of all the sentences.
Additionally, they treat each conviction or disposal on a case-by-case basis, not as multiple convictions.
They also consider how recent each sentence was. For instance, if you received a fine and a suspended sentence of 6 months over 2 years for one conviction, your sentence restrictions will end after 6 months.
In a case where you have had multiple convictions or disposals, the SIA will judge all the information to make a decision. The conditions in this criteria are different.
They will automatically refuse an application if you have a combination of:
- 3 or more convictions where all the sentence restrictions have ended in the past 7 years for relevant offences, where the disposal for each violation would have resulted in CAF.
- 2 or more convictions where all the sentence restrictions have ended within the past 4 years for relevant offences.
- A custodial sentence (including suspended sentence orders and intermittent custody orders) where all the sentence restrictions have ended within the past 7 years before the criminality is assessed, plus any conviction, warning, community resolution, absolute/conditional discharge or admonishment-where sentence restrictions ended within the past 4 years for relevant offences.
If your application is automatically refused under the rules above, don’t give up! You have a chance to put your view across. The SIA will invite you to submit evidence of factual errors in their assessment.
Additionally, if you were convicted in the period relating to the Northern Ireland conflict, your application will not be automatically refused by SIA. Those convictions are treated under CAF.
It’s important to note that subject to the rules on automatic refusal, the SIA will Consider Additional Factors (CAF) when you have a combination of:
- 3 or more convictions where sentence restrictions ended in the past 7 years for relevant offences, where the disposal for each offence would have resulted in granting a licence.
- 2 or more cautions, warnings, community resolutions, absolute/conditional discharges or admonishments, where sentence restrictions ended within the past 4 years for relevant offences.
- A single conviction and 1 or more caution, warning, community resolution, absolute/conditional discharge or admonishment where sentence restrictions ended within the past 4 years for relevant offences.
How ongoing investigations affect SIA Licence criminal record checks
If you have any ongoing investigations and charges awaiting trial, you must report to the SIA before applying for a licence.
Additionally, if you have any outstanding charges for a relevant offence or are aware of ongoing police or public body investigation(s) into potential relevant violations, you must declare it beforehand.
In such circumstances, the SIA may wait for the relevant public body to conclude its investigations. Yet, if you have any documentary evidence indicating when the matter will be resolved, you should provide it to them to enable their decision-making process to potentially move faster.
How ex-juvenile offenders are considered in SIA Licence criminal record checks
If you have any juvenile criminal records that fall under relevant offences, the SIA will consider them using the same process as relevant adult offences.
Nevertheless, the SIA places an exception to the rules on multiple convictions/disposals described above that do not apply to juvenile crimes.
Suppose you have a criminal record gained between the ages of 10 and 12. In that case, they’re considered irrelevant, unless they fall under offences that were initially regarded as serious by the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. The authority will provide some more information as you make your application.
About non-conviction information
If you’re a law-abiding citizen, and are applying for a licence from the SIA, you still will undergo scrutiny before being accepted.
The SIA will conduct due diligence and speak to organisations that it works with, including the police, HMRC, other regulators, local authorities, and private security companies. It helps verify whether you’re fit to hold the licence.
It’s important to note that the SIA reserves the right to consider any relevant information on a case-by-case basis, including information from any period, received from any source.
Can the SIA refuse to give a licence to a person with a criminal record?
There are certain instances where the SIA are likely to refuse to give a licence. If this happens to you, you will be notified by letter and offered the basis for their refusal. However, they’ll invite you to provide additional information.
You’ll also have the opportunity to respond to the refusal letter. The SIA gives you 21 days to do so. Failure to respond after 21 days will mean that your application has been refused.
If you send in your response within 21 days, the SIA will consider what you have to say, and they will write back to you with their decision.
Can you appeal automatic refusal for an SIA Licence?
Sometimes the SIA will automatically refuse an application, or you may use the Criminal Record Indicator and receive an automatic refusal. You can challenge this decision by sending your evidence to the SIA.
However, they will only be able to consider evidence of factual errors such as:
- An error in identity
- Errors in assessing criminality
- Proof of remand time which impacts on the time you have been free of sentence restrictions (which means they would apply CAF)
- Proof that a Community Order was discharged early and impacted sufficiently to change the decision from an automatic decision to CAF
How to handle a Consider Additional Factors (CAF) case for an SIA Licence
Suppose you apply for an SIA licence and are classified as a CAF case by the SIA Criminal Records Indicator, but believe this is an error. In that case, you can send additional evidence of factual errors by the SIA. Alternatively, you can send mitigation to the SIA to help them make their decision.
Mitigation may include:
- Character references that are signed dated and include a telephone number
- Evidence of rehabilitation since an offence
- Mitigation concerning any offence on your application’s record which you feel may affect the SIA’s decision
It’s crucial to give character references who are independent and verifiable, with no vested interest in the licensing decision. They could be previous employers, or people of standing in the community.
If you provide references from family or close friends, they may not carry as much weight.
Lastly, the SIA does not require information about your financial situation, or whether you have held a private security licence before or currently, or whether you hold a firearms licence, while making their decision to provide you with a licence.
The SIA considers a lot of applications. If you are like many honest and trustworthy people who just happen to have made a few mistakes in the past, then this could be a great job choice. If you think it’s for you, then book a course today.
However, you should enter this industry to abuse your position in any way. Please see our blogs on the conditions of your licence and how it might be revoked if you fall foul of your obligations and the SIA’s professional standards.
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